D.C. Maryland and Virginia medical malpractice, accidents and work injuries questions answered by D.C. injury attorneys.
Here are some of the questions people have when they first contact us about D.C., Maryland and Virginia medical malpractice, serious car accidents or workers compensation.
We try to provide as much information as we can based on our experience as medical malpractice lawyers in D.C., Maryland and Virginia and based on representing many hundreds of people who have been injured in accidents or at work in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
Here are the basics:
Patients permanently injured by medical malpractice, or the families of patients killed because of medical negligence, when a hospital, HMO or healthcare corporation doesn't follow basic patient safety rules deserve justice - resources to help with the harms and losses due to the injuries or death of their loved one.
Drivers who don't follow the rules of the road, driving recklessly, driving drunk, speeding, and texting should be accountable for the harm they cause when their actions cause a car accident or wreck.
Workers hurt on the job deserve workers compensation benefits for lost wages, medical treatment and permanent injuries. If a worker is killed on the job, his family deserves workers compensation death benefits - to at least help with the financial loss of a loved one.
But since every person is unique, if you have questions or need information about an injury or death in your family, please contact us to talk it through. We'll talk to you, schedule a free initial meeting and give you all the information we can.
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What if a doctor at a D.C. hospital caused my child's cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy can be caused by medical mistakes.
Unfortunately, cerebral palsy can be caused by medical mistakes made by the doctors and hospital staff at the hospital where you delivered your baby. We've seen cases of malpractice at every hospital in D.C., even if the hospital has a good reputation, there are common medical mistakes we see that cause cerebral palsy:
- System errors - these are hospital wide failures in a system for how patients are diagnosed or treated, in other words, how things are done at the hospital. System failures happen when they do not focus on patient safety. In one case, a hospital had an overhead paging system for emergencies (we've all heard these in the hospital) but one of the team leaders for emergency responses couldn't hear the overhead intercom in his office because the speaker was down the hall, too far away to hear. he didn't hear an overhead page and never got to a patient in time to help her. Another D.C. hospital did not have a system for making sure all of a patient's radiology studies (MRI, CT, x-ray) were read by a radiologist before the patient was discharged. When an abnormal finding was discovered, the patient was already discharged without treatment, and no one told him about the diagnosis.
- Lack of experience - some D.C. hospitals are staffed with residents, interns and medical students. Attending physicians rely on these less experienced medical professionals to be the "eyes and ears" and tell the attending doctor all of the important information about mother and baby. But in practice, a medical student doesn't always know what's important - is it a lab value, blood pressure reading, elevated temperature - that is important? Many times, they don't know what to tell the more experienced doctors or when to act quickly when they need to. Unfortunately, medical mistakes often get repeated in the medical chart. A diagnosis made without all of the information gets repeated again and again and is never questioned. So other causes of symptoms and problems are never ruled out.
- Not consulting medical specialists - Medicine is specialized. But sometimes doctors are hesitant to call in a specialist if a patient needs it. Someone with a high risk pregnancy because she is a bit older, has high blood pressure or is at risk for delivering her baby prematurely, may need to see a maternal-fetal medicine specialist instead of an obstetrician. A newborn may need a neonatologist instead of a pediatrician. Hospitals, especially in the D.C. area, are set up with many medical specialists available and on-call. Not calling in a specialist can have severe consequences for a patient.
If you're worried your child's cerebral palsy was caused by a doctor in D.C.
Take action to get the very best for your child. He or she may need special care, attention, and therapy - much of which Medicaid or health insurance doesn't cover.
We can help. We investigate the cause of your child's cerebral palsy. If it was caused by medical mistakes, we can help you and your family get the resources your child needs to help him or her get the very best care and therapy available.
My son was severely injured in a D.C. hospital and they won't give me his medical records. What can I do?
A D.C. hospital has to give you your medical records - even when the hospital caused a serious injury or medical condition to you or one of your family members.
You need to be careful when getting the medical records or medical chart though. Sometimes a hospital will try to "hide the ball" and give you only some of the medical records, especially if you requested these yourself and your request doesn't cover everything - remember, if you're in the hospital for any period of time, you probably have had diagnostic tests, radiology, labs, physician orders, consultations, medication administration, etc.
And there should be a record for everything. Sometimes records, notes or other information will be added to the medical chart later, so it's important to make sure you have everything that exists, so you can show records, forms, notes, etc. were added later by a doctor, nurse, administrator, or someone else in the hospital if that was the case.
That's one of the reasons we recommend reviewing the original medical chart in the hospital if you're investigating a medical malpractice case or the cause of a serious injury in a hospital. We actually go to the medical records office in the hospital and review everything by hand for the people we represent.
What about electronic medical records? Many hospitals, private doctors and HMOs now use an electronic medical system (and some use a combination of paper and electronic). You should still request a complete copy of the records, either on a disc or a paper copy. Sometimes, these systems will show you (on the paper copy you get) who reviewed the patient's medical record, when the doctor or nurse reviewed it, whether they reviewed any diagnostic tests - like x-rays or MRIs, whether they reviewed the medication list of the patient's medications, whether they ordered a medication, a test, or wanted to bring in a specialist or consultant to see the patient.
If your child was severely injured in a hospital, requesting the medical records is the first step to get started.
There is a lot more that we do to get you answers about what happened to your child and to get you and your family the help you need. All you need to do is call us - there is no obligation or cost - and we'll help you get started today.
Can you help with a medical malpractice case when a medical error took away my health and independence?
We do everything we can to make sure a doctor's malpractice or a hospital mistake doesn't take away your health, income and independence.
How do we do this?
We prepare your case so it's ready to go before it is filed. This often means a faster settlement that can get you the resources and income you need for things like:
- Nursing care - Medicaid only provides limited coverage and you may need more
- Housing - either modifications to your current home to accomodate your injury and condition, or the resources to buy another home.
- Transportation - modified cars and vans and wheelchair accesible vehicles
We can make your life better after a catastrophic injury - and we've done just that for many of the people we work with.
So call and see if we can help you after a serious injury. You'll see we're a lot different than other law firms - we focus on you.
If you'd like a private consultation about your specific situation, with no obligation, call us at (202) 393 - 3320 and we can get started. Even if you decide we're not the right lawyers for you, we guarantee you will get something out of it that will help you and your family.
Can a medication error lead to a medical malpractice case?
Many times, medication errors and mistakes are preventable. Either the wrong medication was ordered by a doctor or the tech or pharmacist filled the wrong prescription.
Sometimes the patient has a known allergy to a specific medication that is ordered.
Sometimes this happens even in the hospital even though the hospital chart has your allergies listed and documented and even though you have an allergy bracelet or other identification. Many times doctors, nurses, techs are all in a rush and they just don't check.
And if they don't check or bother to find out, that is medical malpractice if it happens in a hospital in D.C.. Maryland or Virginia.
So what can you do about it?
As medical malpractice lawyers, we look at how we can help you - that is the key to every case. And that will depend on the extent of the harm you suffered. For example, even if the hospital made a serious medical mistake, like giving you the wrong medication, if it didn't cause any harm, you wouldn't want to go through the time and expense of a medical malpractice lawsuit to hold them responsible. But you would want to report it, make sure the hospital understood the medical mistake occurred and that they were taking steps to prevent it from happening again to someone else in the hospital.
Let's say the worst happened - you were given the wrong medication in the hospital and suffered significant, life changing consequences because you were allergic and they knew of the allergy. We would help you and your family make up for the harms and losses caused by giving you the wrong drug through a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital.
The goal would be to get you the resources you now need because of what the hospital caused and prevent it from happening again to anyone else in the community.
And remember, even a medical malpractice case for a mistake that caused a life changing condition or injury has time limits and other legal requirements that you must comply with. If you're interested in talking confidentially about a life changing condition or injury caused by a hospital in D.C., Maryland or Virginia, please call us to schedule a free, no obligation telephone appointment.
How does a D.C. hospital determine if medical malpractice harmed a patient?
After a serious injury due to malpractice in the hospital, what will the hospital do?
Hospitals in D.C. (and Maryland and Virginia) will review serious injuries that happen in their hospitals to see if they think it was caused by mistakes made by their doctors, nurses, technicians or a system they have in place (like the way they report test results for example).
But this review is secret - you won't know about it. And it won't help you. And they won't tell you the results of their investigation, either. And some of the information may be right in your medical chart, but they still won't tell you - here is a true story of this happening in one of our D.C. medical malpractice cases and settlements involving a disabled child.
But can you really trust them, anyway?
How can you find out what really happened in the hospital to cause a devastating injury to you or someone in your family?
The only way to get your answers is to get an objective review of what happened in the hospital.
And you need to know what happened for several reasons:
- To help you or your family understand what happened and why.
- To get you and your family the resources you need after a serious injury.
- To prevent it from happening again to another patient in the future.
You need a system to evaluate and analyze the medical care without you having to worry about it. Without the stress of always wondering what went wrong and why. And worrying about what you could or should do about it.
With a serious, life changing injury, you and your family have to focus on that.
We have a system for investigating and evaluating medical treatment and events in the hospital.
And we evaluate what happened to see if we can help you and your family and hold the hospital accountable for what it did wrong.
That's the goal of any medical malpractice case - helping you and your family.
How do you file a medical malpractice case in the District of Columbia?
If you've been seriously harmed by the medical system, here are the basics of filing a medical malpractice case in Washington, D.C. against the doctor, HMO or hospital that caused your injuries or serious medical condition. As experienced medical malpractice lawyers in D.C., we often give tips to help patients understand the process.
Investigating a medical malpractice case is a critical first step.
What does this mean? It usually starts with a review of all of your medical records - so make sure you get everything from the hospital you stayed at or the HMO or doctor's office where you were treated. Be persistent - many times they won't give you everything, and you need it all. Be prepared to pay a sizeable amount for the records if you were hospitalized for a long time.
Once we have all of the medical records (and this includes the actual images of MRIs, CTs, etc., not just the reports) we typically review and organize these with an experienced nurse and conduct medical research.
We do this to learn the case and to determine which medical specialties you will need to prove every aspect of the case. We also evaluate your future medical care needs and costs - will you need a nurse to assist you at night? Will you need to modify your home? Are there medications, tests, therapies that you will need for the rest of your life now?
Medical malpractice cases usually require experts in many different fields of medicine.
Once you've made the initial determination, organized and analyzed all of the records, you are ready to take the case to experts - we use doctors in different specialties who are referred to us by other doctors we have worked with as experts in the past.
These are critical meetings where you are reviewing the case with the experts or consultants who may later testify to prove your case. You need to give them all of the information you have, pay them for the time they are taking to review the matter, meeting with you and working with you. Most experts charge at least several hundred dollars per hour because they are taking time out of their successful practices to work with you.
Here's a tip: Don't use experts who just testify all the time. Find experts who have a thriving clinical practice or are engaged in teaching and research.
Filing your medical malpractice case.
Most medical malpractice cases involving a significant, life changing injury or condition won't settle without you filing a lawsuit against the hospital, doctor or HMO. Most of the time, in order to get full value and to pay for everything you need because of the malpractice, you have to show them you are ready, willing and able to take the case to trial.
That means you have expert witnesses ready to go, can finance the substantial litigation costs and know how to try the case (we do all of this for our clients, of course).
D.C. also has a notice provision just for medical malpractice cases. You will need to comply with the law and give the defendants 90 days notice before filing the lawsuit.
And you have to know the statute of limitations (usually 3 years, but there are exceptions - and for children the 3 years doesn't start until they turn 18).
If you or someone in your family has a catastrophic injury caused by medical care, you should be able to focus on getting the care you or your family member needs. You shouldn't have to worry about how you are going to file, litigate and finance your medical malpractice case.
So call us to see how we can help you. But don't wait. Find out how we can help.
What kind of costs are involved with a medical malpractice case?
Any lawyer or law firm handling medical malpractice cases in D.C., Maryland or Virginia, must have the resources necessary to investigate and litigate the case. And these can be substantial for a lot of clients or law firms.
With a serious injury that will require lifetime care and resources to help you or your loved one with the medical care, income, transportation, and housing concerns you now have because of the injury, that should be one of the first questions you ask any medical malpractice lawyer you are interviewing.
The types of costs necessary to handle the case the right way will vary, of course, but here's a list of costs necessary in every case:
- Expert witnesses and consultants - you will need to have the best physicians and specialists for your case and be able to pay top people for the time they will invest in your case for reviewing the medical evidence.
- Medical records - sometimes the follow up medical care requires hospitalizations, rehab stays, and intensive therapy all documented in thousands of pages of medical records.
- Deposition costs - if you need to take the depositions of nurses, doctors, techs and other healthcare providers, especially if they are videotaped, that can be costly.
Medical malpractice cases are expensive because they are so important - important to you, the community and the hospital or doctor. Remember, you will be competing against a large hospital system or insurance company - and you can do it, with the right resources.
We don't cut corners when we investigate or litigate a medical malpractice case - we put the resources into your case.
If a medical mistake has seriously harmed you or your family, please call us at (202) 393 - 3320 to get more information on how we can help you and your family.
What is my medical malpractice case worth in DC?
There are a lot of factors that determine the settlement value of a medical malpractice case in the District, Maryland or Virginia.
There is no formula or grid, or law or book that tells you how much your medical malpractice case is worth in DC, Maryland or Virginia and there is a lot that goes into the analysis. Our approach (and we've been successfully suing hospitals, HMOs and doctors for medical malpractice in the DC area for more than 20 years) can vary a little depending on whether the injured patient is an adult or child, or if there was a death involved, but basically, here's how we do it.
First, look at the harms the medical mistake caused.
We do this from the very beginning and it helps us determine whether we accept the case. We just don't take cases where someone doesn't need our help because the injury is not permanent, or where the costs of the litigation would outweigh the potential recovery to someone.
So we look at your needs - what has changed in your life because of the medical negligence? Do you need around the clock nursing care because you physically cannot care for yourself anymore? Do you need a handicap accessible home, or do you need to modify your house to make it accessible? Do you need transportation if you can no longer drive? What if you never work again - you need to replace that lost income.
How about future medical treatment - therapy, diagnostic tests like MRIs, medications, surgeries - how much will you need and how much will it cost?
Aside from the cost of everything you now need to replace, pay for, or hire people to do, what about the effect this has had on you?
Are you isolated, unable to get out, in pain all the time?
Next, how strong is your medical malpractice case?
There is no such thing as a "slam dunk" in the law. Some cases may be easier to explain than others, but many involve complex medical issues that require expert physicians to explain what should have been done differently and why.
Can this be explained to people - and does it make sense. Common sense, even with complicated issues, is always the key. Many cases involve relatively simple mistakes with no system for preventing them - like a doctor forgets to call in a test result, or a hospitalist doesn't follow up on a recommendation, or a nurse doesn't check a medication order. All of these are simple mistakes that need a system to catch them - to double check, to provide a reminder, to make sure they don't hurt the patient.
Where is your medical malpractice case filed?
DC, Maryland and Virginia all have different medical malpractice laws - most designed to make it hard for legitimately, seriously injured patients to get fair and reasonable compensation for the harms caused by the healthcare system.
So Maryland and Virginia limit damages, or the amount you can recover in a medical malpractice case. That can obviously affect the settlement value of any case - even a catastrophic, life changing injury or death.
Is your medical malpractice case ready for trial from day one?
You have to show the hospital, HMO, or doctors insurance company that you are ready, willing and able to go to trial. Here are a few tips to get you started, but much of that depends on the lawyers you choose to handle your malpractice case. If they have never handled a case like yours, or don't have the experience, resources, access to experts, familiarity with the court and hospital lawyers, etc....that can be an uphill battle.
So when we accept a case, we put it together before we file it. This means we have had it evaluated by numerous medical experts in different specialties, have prepared you, have assessed the harms and determined what would help make up for them, and have given everything to the hospital or insurance company so they know you're ready to go.
We only handle cases for patients and children who have been seriously injured. If you'd like more information on working with us, or investigating your medical malpractice case, or medical mistakes affecting children, please call us at (202) 393 - 3320.
Is your employer making it hard on you to file for workers comp benefits?
We just talked to an electrician about his employer, a large corporation, making it hard on him to file for workers compensation benefits after an injury at work in D.C.
Here's how they do it. And some of this is driven by their insurance companies.
First, they say "don't worry about it. We'll give you all the time you need to go to the doctor (a doctor the company chooses) and we'll handle the paperwork."
Or they say, "you've had an injury in the past - why don't you just have your health insurance take care of it." Or, "that's not a serious injury, just let it go."
Then they give you a hard time about time off to go to the doctor (to get treatment for an injury they are legally responsible for). They try to push it off on you.
Don't let them. Here's why:
They are creating defenses - manufacturing ways they can deny or delay paying benefits to workers with legitimate work injuries. They want to make their workers uncomfortable about reporting an injury. Why? So they can later deny a legitimate injury because it wasn't reported right away. Or they create an atmosphere where you don't want to go to the doctor or miss time from work - so you don't give your injuries a chance to heal, and they get worse.
What then? They say it can't be that bad because you didn't get much medical treatment...so you must be "milking" it.
Do the right thing for yourself and your family after a work injury. Get the information, expertise and advice you need before the insurance company uses your inexperience against you (remember, they have thousands of cases they have handled and absolutely no duty to you or your family).
So order one of our books and guides on D.C. workers compensation or call us at (202) 393-3320 to see how we can help.
How long does a cerebral palsy case take in D.C.?
Cerebral palsy cases for children in the District usually take about 2 years to get to trial or to settle after filing a lawsuit against the hospital and doctor who was responsible. These cases tend to take longer than car wreck or other injury cases for a number of reasons:
First, you need a number of expert witnesses in different specialties to testify about the harms that were done to the child, the amount of money necessary to properly care for the child with cerebral palsy, the cause and timing of the cerebral palsy, and of course, the things the hospital didn't do or should have done to prevent the harms from happening.
The hospital and doctor's insurance lawyers can take the deposition of each one of these expert physicians, and scheduling and taking the depositions takes time.
A trial involving cerebral palsy often takes two or three weeks, so judges tend to schedule those trials far in advance as well.
The two year estimate for how long a cerebral palsy case takes in D.C. is just from the time the case is filed with the Court. Before that is done, there is a significant amount of time spent investigating and preparing the case and that can take several years, depending on how long ago the child was born and the number of medical experts necessary to prove the case.